in Congress have abandoned their efforts to investigate the White
House's use of questionable intelligence information about Iraq's
alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, saying the issue
has been "eclipsed" by President Bush's request for $87
billion from Congress to continue funding the war.
Helfert, a spokesman for Congressman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, who
criticized the White House for relying too heavily on murky intelligence
to get support for the war, said Friday that Congressional Democrats
would no longer pursue hearings on the intelligence matter.
past that," Helfert said, referring to the intelligence issue.
"Those questions were eclipsed by the supplemental request by
President Bush for $87 billion" to fund the Iraq war. "Congress
is focusing on asking questions about the $87 billion, what it will
be used for and whether it's worth it. It would be a good characterization
to say that the intelligence questions on Iraq and how the President
came to believe that it had weapons of mass destruction are no longer
of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since Bush declared an
end to major combat in May.
who this week called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, wrote a letter
to the General Accounting Office last month to try and get the agency
to investigate a secret Pentagon committee known as the Office of
Special Plans. The Special Plans Office, headed by Wolfowitz and other
hawks in the Bush administration, cherry-picked intelligence, much
of which was gathered by unreliable Iraqi defectors, to make a stronger
case for war in Iraq, according to four intelligence officials with
knowledge of the inner workings of the group.
collecting the intelligence data, the Office of Special Plans then
sent the information it gathered directly to Vice President Dick Cheney's
office and to the office of National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice
without first vetting the information through the CIA, the intelligence
other Democrats in Congress, including Ellen Tauscher, D-California,
called for an investigation into the Office of Special Plans to find
out whether the group knowingly used and supplied the White House
with unreliable intelligence information to win support for the war,
but their efforts were thwarted by the Republican controlled Congress.
a month before Congress took off for a month-long summer recess, Bush
and senior officials in the White House took a beating in the press
for what looked like an attempt by the administration to manipulate
prewar intelligence on the threat Iraq posed to the U.S. and its neighbors
in the Middle East in order to convince Congress and the public to
support a preemptive strike against Iraq.
weeks, the White House was dogged by questions of its use of intelligence
information on the so-called Iraqi threat, most notably the 16-word
statement that made its way into Bush's January State of the Union
speech claiming Iraq had sought large quantities of yellowcake uranium
from Niger to build a nuclear bomb. It has since been revealed that
the uranium claim was based on forged documents. The White House then
admitted that the statement should never have been included in Bush's
State of the Union address.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a closed-door hearing
in July, questioning CIA Director George Tenet and other officials
with the spy agency about the intelligence information collected by
the CIA about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It was Tenet who,
after National Security Adviser Rice blamed the CIA director, took
the fall for Bush when questions were asked about why the White House
allowed the uranium claims to be used in Bush's State of the Union
address even though there were uncertainties about its authenticity.
But it was later revealed that Tenet had warned Stephen Hadley, an
aide to Rice, in a memo that the statements about Iraq's attempts
to purchase uranium from Niger should not be included in Bush's speech
because it was not true. Hadley said he "forgot" to advise
Bush and Rice about the CIA's warnings.
with the media keeping the pressure on Bush and his use of faulty
intelligence, Democrats in both houses continued to ask tough questions
and appeared to be close to getting some answers. But then came the
summer recess, ending the debate for good.
in Britain, a Parliamentary committee launched a full-scale investigation
into Prime Minister Tony Blair's government and whether he or his
advisers falsified intelligence on the Iraqi threat. The committee,
which wrapped up its probe Thursday, concluded that Blair did not
falsify intelligence but failed to disclose to the public the uncertainty
surrounding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and questioned the
claims used by Blair that Iraq could deploy missiles in 45 minutes
and that Iraq was a threat to Britain.
here in the United States, it appears all but likely that Congress
will never direct the same questions Parliament compelled Tony Blair
to answer toward Bush. In his televised speech Sunday, Bush shifted
his rationale for the war in Iraq, saying it was now the central front
on the war on terror and less about weapons of mass destruction, which
were the reasons he cited as starting the war in the first place.
Congressman Obey's spokesman, said because there are now "cracks
in Bush's armor" because of the tough questions he was asked
about his use of intelligence, it will be easier for Democrats to
ask even tougher questions about how the administration will spend
the $87 billion to continue funding the war.
are now the important questions that have to be asked and answered,"
hope we get some answers before Congress takes off for the winter.